See NATO’s Most Dangerous Tank In Its First Ever Live Fire Drills: 1000 K2s Deploying Near Russian Borders

Poland’s K2 Black Panther main battle tanks newly delivered from South Korea have carried out their first live fire drills, marking a major landmark in the modernisation of the country’s ground forces as well as the wider advancement of NATO’s capabilities on its eastern flank. The Polish Army plans to field close to 1000 K2 tanks, which will replace its older Soviet T-72, Soviet-derived PT-91 and German Leopard 2 tanks in service. The country has delivered all three of the older tank classes to Ukraine in significant numbers, with thousands of Polish personnel operating both actively and as contractors in the Ukrainian theatre against Russian forces. The contract to acquire the K2 was signed in July 2022, making the speed at which the vehicles have begun deliveries particularly impressive when compared to the close to a decade long wait which has consistently been required for the U.S. and Germany to fulfil tank orders. The K2 is also considerably newer than any Western tank design and in most respects much more sophisticated, which makes it now the most capable tank fielded by any NATO member and thus a potentially serious threat to Russian interests particularly due to the large numbers it will be fielded in. 

Regarding the decision to acquire large numbers of K2s, Polish Deputy Prime Minister and Defence Minister, Mariusz Blaszczak, stated on July 22 that the acquisition “will significantly increase Poland’s security and the strength of the Polish Army. Fast delivery and industry development are key! We reconciled the often divergent interests of soldiers and the arms industry. It’s a win-win situation for both groups. We’re signing contracts next week!” As a result of purchases from Korea, he claimed, “Among the European countries [and] NATO, Poland will have the strongest land forces.” Following initial purchases of 180 K2 tanks, 820 enhanced K2PL tanks are expected to be delivered from 2026 under followup contracts. Major advantages over the leading Western tank the M1A2 Abrams include the use of an autoloader, which reduces crew requirements by 25 percent, as well as a faster rate of fire, much greater fuel efficiency, lower maintenance needs, and the ability to operate as an artillery system with an indirect fire mode. It also integrates a radar which sets it apart from other vehicles, and combined with a laser rangefinder and a crosswind sensor provides a lock-on targeting. Its thermographic camera with a ‘lock on’ mode allows it to track specific targets at ranges of 9.8km, while its millimetre band radar system can serve as a Missile Approach Warning System which works well with the tank’s computer’s ability to triangulate incoming projectiles and fire visual and infrared screening smoke grenades. The tank is expected to provide significant performance advantages over the top operational Russian tank the T-90M, which has seen a major production surge since 2022 to respond to growing tensions with NATO and Ukraine.